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Ways Iron Man Can Kill Thanos

As Avengers: Endgame careens towards theaters on April 26, the question every fan is asking is who is going to put an end to the Mad Titan, Thanos. There's arguments to be made for just about every MCU hero — the Hulk is still smarting from the one-round KO he endured in the opening minutes of Avengers: Infinity War; Thor's lost his brother, half of his people, and a significant portion of his will to live at the hands of Thanos; Captain America has been fighting against genocidal monsters since he first gained forty pounds of muscle and a foot of height. There's even a very gross argument to be made that it'll be the humble Ant Man who will do the deed by enlarging inside Thanos. That's not even mentioning Brie Larson's Captain Marvel, who's been confirmed to be the strongest MCU superhero introduced so far.

But of all the possibilities, the one that makes the most sense is that the superhero destined to avenge half the Earth's population is none other than everyone's favorite genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist: Tony Stark. How will he do it, though? Well, we've got some theories that run the gamut from near-certainty to intriguing possibilities based on comics lore. Read on to see all the ways that Iron Man can kill Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.

It all starts with Iron Man

Avengers: Endgame isn't just the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War; it's the entire culmination of over a decade of superhero storytelling. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has evolved and changed in ways that no one was able to predict. What once seemed like a cultural bubble that was always one box office bomb away from bursting has now made it so your parents probably have strong feelings about Groot, the tri-syllabic talking tree from another planet. Take a moment to remind yourself how insane that is.

Now, where did that culture-shifting wave start? Arguably it started with Blade, but when we're talking about the MCU, it began with 2008's Iron Man. The film starred Robert Downey Jr. (then considered a talented actor who'd ruined his career with scandals and drug abuse) as a C-list Marvel superhero. That the film was a box office smash was surprising enough, but the post-credits sequence where Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury tells Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative? That was a whole new ballgame. Prior to Iron Man, superhero crossovers were largely relegated to fan fantasies or low-budget TV movies like 1988's The Incredible Hulk Returns. Iron Man ended with a declaration of intent that the powers that be were making a genuine superhero universe on the big screen. It was the first step on the road that led us to, well... superhero movies actually winning Academy Awards.

It will end with Iron Man

In short, Iron Man is the beating arc reactor heart of the MCU — an appearance by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is enough to sell films with even a tertiary connection to the larger franchise. While The Incredible Hulk is largely forgotten today, Tony's appearance in the final scene means that it will always be a part of the MCU. The same goes for how involved he is with Tom Holland's Spider-Man, which helped establish the character as distinct from Sony's past failed attempts. Still, there's been rumors of RDJ's desire to step down for years now, and with his steadily-increasing pay demands, there's every indication that Disney wouldn't mind moving away from Tony Stark, too.

If they need to end the character's on-screen presence, what better way than with a noble sacrifice? It's even built into the character's larger story. In Iron Man, he's able to have a change of heart and become a superhero thanks to Ho Yinsen giving his life in order to save Tony's. In The Avengers, Tony thinks that he's going to be sacrificing himself in order to stop the Chitauri invasion. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, he's a father figure to Peter Parker, coming full circle from the prickly, cocky playboy persona he established in Iron Man. Basically, the writing is on the wall that what Tony's headed towards is the same kind of sacrifice that Yinsen made for him. It's like poetry. It rhymes.

Using some blood, sweat, tears, and more blood

Near the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Tony goes ballistic on Thanos, unleashing every weapon in his nano-particle-fueled armor in the hope of bringing the Mad Titan down. Unfortunately, despite some cool tricks including hammer-fists, a shield, and a nano-particle sword straight out of Power Rangers, he's beaten back and nearly killed by Thanos. Before that happens, though, Thanos rubs his cheek and mocks Tony's hard work by saying, "All that for a drop of blood." It seems like it's meant to show that even Tony's best can't do much to damage Thanos, but there could be a deeper meaning to it.

What if getting a drop of Thanos' blood was Tony's goal the whole time? After all, you can learn a lot about a being by analyzing their blood. Sure, Tony was probably hoping to actually finish off Thanos, but he's been established as a futurist in the movies and the comics. It's smart to have contingency plans in case Thanos actually could get away with his evil plan. There's also the added detail that Tony's suit is made of nano-particles; if he was able to slip some of those machines into Thanos' body, he might be able to get readings on him that way. With enough time and resources, it's fairly likely that Iron Man could build an anti-Thanos weapon — all from a single drop of blood.

Wielding the Infinity Gauntlet

If there's one thing that defines the cosmic MacGuffins of the MCU, it's that the Infinity Stones are pretty deadly to most forms of life, even when they aren't combined in a big golden glove. In Thor: The Dark World, Jane Foster is dying slowly because of her close encounter with a transmuted form of the aether, or Reality Stone. In Guardians of the Galaxy, we saw Peter Quill nearly get overcome by the Power Stone, until the other guardians stepped up and shared the pain. That's part of why Thanos' ease of acquiring all six is so unsettling; it seems like the Mad Titan is just plainly made of sterner stuff than most heroes.

However, he's not the only one to use the gauntlet in the comics — in fact, more than a couple of humans have had the honor of wielding the power to bend reality with the bend of a finger. Among those hallowed few is none other than Tony Stark. While the MCU has diverged from its comics roots in more than a few ways, it's not hard to imagine Tony wielding the Infinity Gauntlet to return everyone who faded into dust at the end of Infinity War. After all, we more or less know that all those dead heroes are coming back (we've all seen the Spider-Man trailer that takes place after Endgame, right?), so who's going to do the honors? It would make the most sense for the highest-paid movie star in MCU history to bring his co-stars back for the final battle.

Iron Man and his amazing friends

There are some serious benefits to being the first starring superhero in a decade-spanning franchise; for starters, it gives you a pretty diverse supporting cast. Between Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau Happy Hogan, Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, and Ty Simpkins' Harley Keener (the kid from Iron Man 3 who helped Stark get back on his metallic feet), Iron Man's got some unique friends to call on for help when he needs to — and those are just the characters that were introduced in the first three Iron Man films. That's not even mentioning all the connections he's made in his various Avenging work and tech innovation. In fact, for a character that likes to pretend that he's a lone wolf who doesn't play by anyone's rules, he sure seems to love forming groups.

That quality might be the key to Thanos' defeat. In Infinity War, the closest anyone comes to defeating Thanos and stopping his gauntlet-focused rampage is when Iron Man attacks the Mad Titan in perfect synchronicity with Nebula, Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis, Spider-Man, and Dr. Strange. Numbers are what overwhelms Thanos, and it's only when Star-Lord loses control of his emotions that their surprisingly effective plan loses its luster.  How will Iron Man kill Thanos? Ironically, probably with the help of his friends and teammates. After all, the Avengers in the comics have always been an ensemble.

Smarter than the average superhero

While many of the Avengers have gotten by with their natural superpowers, uncanny physical abilities, or their status as an actual wizard, Tony is literally a self-made man, in that he made himself Iron Man. As Jeff Bridges' Obadiah Stane says, "Tony Stark was able to build [the Iron Man suit] in a cave! With a box of scraps!" We've seen how adept he is at building plenty of backup suits in the climax of Iron Man 3, and we've also seen how his engineering genius works for other superheroes, as when he built custom suits for War Machine and Spider-Man.

With that in mind, what would happen if he built custom suits for all of the surviving Avengers? Imagine a combination of Hank Pym's particles and Iron Man's repulsor technology, or a stealth suit for Black Widow. In terms of Cap, just imagine a laser-based, transforming shield that Steve Rogers can modify at will while battling Thanos in a powerful suit that increases his super-soldier-serum-enhanced strength. You actually don't need to imagine that last one, because it's straight from the comics. To sum up, if Iron Man can put up a pretty good fight one-on-one, Thanos doesn't stand a chance against a whole teched-out group of Avengers.

Tony Stark… director of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Iron Man has been just about everywhere in the Marvel comic book universe, but 2007 saw him taking over S.H.I.E.L.D. after the events of Civil War (which went just slightly different from the events of Captain America: Civil War). As director of the most advanced spy network on the planet, Iron Man was able to combine his futurist leanings and engineering know-how with an unheard-of amount of resources that even a billionaire tech guru couldn't accrue on his own. Why bring that up? Well, because the post-credits sequence of Infinity War featured Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill fading into dust after Thanos' snap — and chances are good that they weren't just hanging out together for the fun of it.

While the Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series has seen the organization break up and reform and break up again, the MCU has never really paid much heed to that side of its multimedia pie. Ultimately, the idea of a global spy network with high-tech weaponry is way too good to leave on the table for long. If S.H.I.E.L.D. does get rebuilt between Infinity War and Endgame, it's a good bet that Tony Stark will be leading the charge, since former leaders Hill and Fury both vanished into dust. We know from Spider-Man: Homecoming that Iron Man is in communication with the CIA to capture certain supervillains, and his occasional work with the military in Captain America: Civil War has made him a prime leader to bring together various spy organizations under the S.H.I.E.L.D banner.

Iron Man, Asgardian weaponsmith

Iron Man might have put up a good fight against Thanos (and teamwork might have nearly saved the day), but in terms of which concrete weapon did the most damage to the Mad Titan, the award has to go to Thor's new ax, Stormbreaker. Forged by Eitri out of Uru metal, the weapon very nearly got Thanos, although ultimately Thanos escaped before Thor could finish him off. If one Asgardian weapon could bring Thanos so low, a few more might just finish the job. In the comics, specifically the event comic Fear Itself, some of Marvel's best and brightest actually do get unique Asgardian weapons courtesy of Odin's god-like power and Tony Stark's design sensibilities.

Sure, Odin might be dead in the MCU, but Thor is High Father now, and with great power, there must also come the great responsibility to make radical Thanos-defeating weapons. With his godly powers and Iron Man's tech savvy, a crew of Asgardian-powered Avengers might just be enough to bring down the same Thanos that was able to defeat Thor and Iron Man separately.

Iron Dad to the rescue

While Avengers: Endgame's concrete plot details are being kept under tight wraps by Disney, that hasn't stopped the rumor mill of fandom from concocting all sorts of crazy theories about what's going to happen. While some of the fan theories have gotten pretty wild, one particular prediction has the ring of truth about it: that the upcoming superhero epic will heavily feature time travel. Supposedly, the film will feature the surviving Avengers assembling a cross-time bevvy of superpowered heavy hitters, which will have the added benefit of wrapping up whatever loose ends the MCU needs to before it transitions to the next decade of films.

One very intriguing possibility that springs out of that is the potential return of Howard Stark. In both the comics and the MCU, Howard Stark has lived a very interesting (and very superhero-adjacent) life. He helped forge Captain America's shield, played a vital role in the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D., and in one comics storyline, recruited a Russian Werebear to rescue an alien android from a casino owned by a different group of aliens (comics are bananas). While Endgame seems packed to the gills with characters already, it would definitely be satisfying for Tony to finally get the closure with his dad that he was denied as a youth — and considering the older Stark's gift for technological invention, Howard Stark might just find a way to help his son kill Thanos.